A couple of years ago, I wrote about my initial impressions from using LinkedIn. I was not so positive about it, and since then LinkedIn has shown that I know nothing, continuing its impressive growth in both users and profits.
Lately, I have been wondering about LinkedIn connections. In past work (and life) settings, connections really mattered. You had to work for them, though, and in theory, you could utilize them down the road. This also required you to actually know the person and be friends with him.
Carrying this concept online made sense – creating a good way to organize your real contacts and keep up with them. No more rolodex!
Today, I have “only” 161 connections. Almost everyone is someone I’ve met. If it’s someone completely new, I at least write an introduction in the invite and explain why I’d appreciate connecting with that person. I’ll even do that with people I may have met just incidentally or haven’t talked to in a long time. Otherwise, why should that other person connect with me, right? It’s no different from a friend-based social network – only accept your real friends.
I’m also this way about accepting invites. Yet, no one who doesn’t know me has ever introduced himself when he sends an invite – all the people in the image above just sent me the blank template invite. I’ve sometimes asked people why they want to connect to me, and for those that do respond, it tends to be “just because”. No care is taken to write a personal message of introduction or perhaps lead into a real discussion. I actually wouldn’t mind meeting most of the people who invite me to foster that real relationship, but the way they approach it actually makes me think they don’t care about me, they just want to pad their stats. Most people who send me invites are in Vietnam, so perhaps this is more indicative of the current culture here, but are connections like game “points”?
Is the goal to win LinkedIn by collecting as many connections as you can regardless of any true relationship?
I’ve heard of people in the USA being graded on the number of their Facebook friends as an indicator of their social media prowess. I wonder if other LinkedIn users look at me and assume I’m a nobody.
I’d love to know more about you use LinkedIn:
- Is it important for you to have a real connection with a LinkedIn connection?
- Does the number of LinkedIn connections have any significance to you when you look at other people?
- If you’re someone who happily invites and adds other users randomly, why? Could these connections lead to a better opportunity down the road? This method certainly doesn’t work in offline settings, especially in Vietnam, so I’m interested in the reasons for this approach.
If the reason to add connections is so that when you need a job or help, this will maximize your reach, I don’t agree with that at all. If you don’t know or care about someone, why would you pay attention when they post? That’s just spam (unwanted messaging) that no one likes and everyone just ignores. What’s more likely is that you’ll block that person so they don’t appear in your feed again – this is no different from needing to have proper audience targeting of a marketing message.